Khaitan denied bail in VIP chopper case

AgustaWestland chopper

AgustaWestland chopper
AgustaWestland chopper

The Delhi High Court  dismissed the bail plea of businessman Gautam Khaitan who was arrested in a money laundering case related to the AgustaWestland VIP chopper deal.

Justice V.P. Vaish asked the investigating agency Enforcement Directorate (ED) to complete the investigation as early as possible and said after that Khaitan could file plea for bail.

Seeking bail, Khaitan said he has been fully cooperating with the investigation and his arrest by the ED is based purely on speculation, conjecture and surmises.

The ED, however, opposed his bail plea, saying there was a likelihood of Khaitan tampering with evidence and hampering the ongoing probe, which is at a crucial stage.

A court here Oct 20 last year dismissed Khaitan’s bail plea, saying the probe regarding other accused in the case was still going on.

Khiatan, who is in judicial custody now, sought bail on medical ground.

He was on the board of the Chandigarh-based company Aeromatrix and was arrested a day after the ED conducted a search of his premises Sep 22.

The supply of 12 VIP helicopters from AgustaWestland came under scrutiny after Italian authorities alleged that the company paid a bribe to clinch the deal with India, inked in February 2010.

Following these allegations, India Jan 1, 2014, terminated the Rs.3,600 crore (about $770 million) deal with AgustaWestland for the purchase of the choppers meant to ferry the president, the prime minister and other VIPs.

The ED registered a case in this deal in July 2013 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and booked in its criminal complaint former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi, foreign nationals Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke, companies like AgustaWestland, its parent company Italy-based Finmeccanica, Chandigarh-based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix as well as two companies based in Mauritius and Tunisia, a few other firms and unidentified people.

The ED named 21 entities in the case. The Central Bureau of Investigation lodged a separate case in March 2013 against Tyagi and others in connection with the kickback allegations.